as Tutors, by Dr. Bennett, ISBN 0-9669583-6-5
to the web site
premise on which Dr. Bennett's book is based
essentially states that teacher interaction with
students in the current incarnation of the U.S.
public education system is fundamentally flawed;
variously inadequate, uncaring and catering to
the lowest common denominator. The flaws, as
described by Dr. Bennett, are endemic to a system
which promotes a general standard of quality
as opposed to individual student achievement.
It's an okay premise as far as it goes and Dr.
Bennett certainly tears apart, in some detail,
many of the wretched inequities and failures
of the U.S. public education system.
read through the 220 page book, it becomes increasingly clear
that while Dr. Bennett is skilled at pointing out all the
terrible inadequacies of the current system, 'championing'
obscurities such as "Spacing Effect", coining neat
phrases and titles such as "Leader Teachers" and
promoting unearned value for so-called "Learning Schools",
he is less apt at providing organized details and specifications
for the revolution of computers as tutors which he insists
must be part of the wave of the future. This is not surprising
if you consider that while Dr. Bennett's theories seem to
be all too clear to himself, he simply seems unable to fully
explain them, spending many pages insisting how wonderful
things could be without providing the reader with any practical
descriptions. Metaphors abound, along with hyperbole. Absent
are practical replacements. Perhaps he wrote the book hoping
it would attract some education consulting contracts? I can't
say for sure.
understands that successful classroom use of computers requires
a sea-change in thinking and attitude on the part of school
boards and administrators. Such a change is only likely to
come about when the majority of that group is populated by
truly computer-literate individuals. The good doctor also
understands that computers must be one entrenched item within
the pantheon of educational tools, but the point is obscured
by his endless lecturing and repetition of the obvious.
is that the book is long on criticism and short on practical
and detailed solutions which can be implemented by current
education administrations and human resources. It is also
clear that while Dr. Bennett may have earned some success
as a computer programmer and latter-day software developer,
he proposes nothing with respect to hardware and software
implementation and maintenance that hasn't already been tried.
An overview of his general principles reveals the need to
expend many billions of dollars in each region of the U.S.,
apparently just to build the infrastructure required to begin
implementing what I think are his plans. In any event, it's
difficult to say for sure because it's also evident that when
Dr. Bennett wrote the book he may have had only a limited
sense of the massive, intractable and expensive state of the
current infrastructure. That fact, combined with the manner
in which Dr. Bennett ignores how difficult it is (to this
day) to establish stable interactive computing on a wide and
maintainable scale across vast financial and geographical
boundaries, renders most of the book's good points into little
more than pie-in-the-sky idealism.
The fundamental premise behind any theory being propounded
should most often be supported by provable fact and specification,
or at least an understandable system of action, communication
and structure in this case. It's all absent from this book,
examples from other countries (which have little bearing on
the needs of the immensely varied U.S. student demographic)
and a few narrowly construed U.S.-based experiments notwithstanding.
Dr. Bennett clearly elucidates many of the basic problems
(and a few of the more complex ones) in the U.S. public education
system. If you want to read this book, look for it online
through the publisher's links or at your local bookseller.
to the Editor are welcome and occasionally abused in public.
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